Comic Sans MS is a sans-serif casual script typeface designed by Vincent Connare and released in 1994 by Microsoft Corporation. It is a casual, non-connecting script inspired by comic book lettering, intended for use in informal documents and children's materials.
The typeface has been supplied with Microsoft Windows since the introduction of Windows 95, initially as a supplemental font in the Windows Plus Pack and later in Microsoft Comic Chat. Describing it, Microsoft has explained that "this casual but legible face has proved very popular with a wide variety of people."
The typeface's widespread use, often in situations for which it was not intended, has been criticized.
Microsoft designer Vincent Connare began work on Comic Sans in October 1994. Connare had already created child-oriented fonts for various applications, so when he saw a beta version of Microsoft Bob that used Times New Roman in the word balloons of cartoon characters, he felt that the result was a formal look inappropriate for a program intended to introduce younger users to computers. His decision was to create a new face based on the lettering style of comic books he had in his office, specifically The Dark Knight Returns (lettered by John Costanza) and Watchmen (lettered by Dave Gibbons).
He completed the face too late for inclusion in MS Bob, but the programmers of Microsoft 3D Movie Maker, which also used cartoon guides and speech bubbles, began to use it. The speech bubbles eventually were phased out and replaced by actual sound, but Comic Sans stayed for the program’s pop-up windows and help sections. The typeface later shipped with the Windows 95 Plus! Pack. It then became a standard font for the OEM version of Windows 95. Finally, the font became one of the default fonts for Microsoft Publisher and Microsoft Internet Explorer. The font is also used in Microsoft Comic Chat, which was released in 1996 with Internet Explorer 3.0.
Microsoft has reportedly sometimes claimed to retain the original Mac computer on which Comic Sans was created in its collection; Connare has said that this is not correct as the computer in Microsoft's collection was his older personal computer.
Comic Sans Pro (2011)
Comic Sans Pro is an improved and expanded version created by Terrance Weinzierl from Monotype Imaging. While retaining the original classic design of the core characters, it adds new italic variants of the original fonts, swashes, small capitals, extra ornaments and symbols including speech bubbles, onomatopoeia and dingbats, as well as text figures and other stylistic alternates. Originally appearing as part of Ascender 2010 Font Pack as Comic Sans 2010, it was first released on April Fools' Day, causing some to initially assume it was a joke.
Reception and use in popular culture
Installed on the majority of computers worldwide, Comic Sans saw widespread use. Within four years of its release on Windows, designers had begun to argue that it had become overused, often through use in serious and formal documents in which it could appear too informal or even as inappropriate and disrespectful. Examples of uses to which it has been considered poorly suited have been a Dutch war memorial, printed advice for rape victims, blog posts by a law firm and as a font recommended for résumés in careers training.
The font is nonetheless very popular with educational users, up to high school level, with some schools in the United Kingdom requiring it in their style guides. Some have even imposed monitoring to make sure that it is used enough as part of their good teaching checklists.
The Boston Phoenix reported on disgruntlement over the widespread use of the font, especially its incongruous use for writing on serious subjects, with the complaints urged on by a campaign started by two Indianapolis graphic designers, Dave and Holly Combs, via their website "Ban Comic Sans". The movement was conceived in 1999 by the two designers after an employer insisted that one of them use Comic Sans in a children's museum exhibit, and in early 2009, the movement was "stronger now than ever". The web site's main argument is that a typeface should match the tone of its text and that the irreverence of Comic Sans is often at odds with a serious message, such as a "do not enter" sign.
Comic book artist Dave Gibbons, whose work was one of the inspirations for the font, said that it was "a shame they couldn't have used just the original font, because [Comic Sans] is a real mess. I think it's a particularly ugly letter form."
Film producer and New York Times essayist Errol Morris wrote in an August 2012 posting, "The conscious awareness of Comic Sans promotes — at least among some people — contempt and summary dismissal." With the help of a professor, he conducted an online experiment and found that Comic Sans, in comparison with five other fonts (Baskerville, Helvetica, Georgia, Trebuchet MS, and Computer Modern), makes readers slightly less likely to believe that a statement they are reading is true.
In the Netherlands radio DJs Coen Swijnenberg and Sander Lantinga decided to celebrate the font by having a Comic Sans day on the first Friday of July. Comic Sans Day has been held since 2009. Some Dutch companies have their website in Comic Sans on this day.
Font expert Stephen Coles defended its use, commenting that it has "a monopoly on informality" among common computer fonts, noting that among them "only one can be universally described as 'casual', 'fun', 'playful'". He nonetheless recommended that designers seek out alternative professional fonts in the same style for variety.
In a 2010 Cognition research article showed disfluency could lead to improved retention and classroom performance. The article stated that disfluency can be produced merely by adopting fonts that are slightly more difficult to read. In the case studies cited in the article, Comic Sans fonts were used to introduce disfluency.
A 2010 Princeton University study involving presenting students with text in a font slightly more difficult to read found that they consistently retained more information from material displayed in so-called disfluent or ugly fonts (Monotype Corsiva, Haettenschweiler, Comic Sans Italicized were used) than in a simple, more readable font such as Arial.
During the summer of 2010, NBA superstar LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers in free agency, in a highly publicized media affair that culminated in a TV special called The Decision. The majority owner of the team (at the time), Dan Gilbert, reacted by posting a letter to Cavalier fans. One of the ways the letter was heavily derided was for its use of Comic Sans font.
In July 2012, when the discovery of the Higgs boson was announced at CERN, Fabiola Gianotti, the spokesperson of the ATLAS experiment, attracted comment by using the font in her presentation of the results. As a 2014 April Fools' Day joke, CERN later claimed that it would be switching all its publications to Comic Sans.
On 21 August 2015, a number of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras's Syriza party members split and formed a new party, headed by Member of the Hellenic Parliament Panagiotis Lafazanis. The official document of resignation was allegedly written in Comic Sans.
- Chalkboard (typeface)
- Comic Neue
- Core fonts for the Web
- Kristen (typeface)
- Papyrus (typeface)
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The Comic Sans typeface, one of Microsoft’s most popular designs, has received a makeover courtesy of Monotype Imaging. Today the company has introduced the four-font Comic Sans Pro family of typefaces. Featuring elements such as speech bubbles and cartoon dingbats, Comic Sans Pro extends the versatility of the original Comic Sans, designed by Vincent Connare for Microsoft in 1994.
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- Ascender 2010 Font Pack Overview with Comic Sans 2010
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Comic Sans.|
- Comic Sans MS font information (Microsoft typography)
- Typowiki: Comic Sans
- Comic Sans Café (Microsoft typography)
- Snog Blog: The Vincent Connare Interview
- Comic Sans | Font for the masses or weed of the graphic world?
- Short video of Vincent Connare at 2009 ROFLThing NYC telling the story of Comic Sans
- Ban Comic Sans an opinion piece about the movement by Dr Chris Scanlon from La Trobe University